Stetson Law dean joins more than 160 law deans signing letter in support of legal aid

Dean Christopher M. Pietruszkiewicz.

Dean Christopher M. Pietruszkiewicz.

On March 23, Stetson University College of Law Dean Christopher M. Pietruszkiewicz joined more than 160 other deans from public and private law schools across the country in signing a letter in support of continuing funding for the Legal Services Corporation.

“What brings us together today is a shared conviction that the loss of LSC funds would devastate efforts to provide access to essential legal services in our communities,” the letter states. Read the letter here: Letter to Congress in Support of Legal Aid (PDF)

The publicly-funded LSC program is the largest source of support for civil legal aid organizations around the country, with more than a million low-income Americans depending on these organizations for access to legal services.

“At Stetson, we know that one of our core values is to provide access to justice,” said Dean Pietruszkiewicz.

More than 30 years ago, longtime Stetson adjunct law professor and Stetson Hall of Fame inductee Wm. Reece Smith Jr., as then-president of the American Bar Association, encouraged lawyers and former ABA presidents to send a letter to Congress in support of continuing public funding for the Legal Services Corporation, which was in danger of losing public funding.

“Stetson’s tradition of public service began decades ago, a tradition which we continue today,” said Dean Pietruszkiewicz.

Stetson started the first Public Defender Clinic in the state. Last year, Stetson students contributed more than 30,000 hours of pro bono service and participated in 30 clinics and externships. Stetson provided students with an opportunity to participate in more than 400 community volunteer opportunities.

In January, several Stetson Law alumnae were honored at the Supreme Court of Florida by the Florida Bar for their work on behalf of poor and indigent clients.

In February, Stetson’s Veterans Law Institute celebrated the launch of a new medical-legal partnership with the Bay Pines Veterans Administration Healthcare System, Bay Area Legal Services and Gulfcoast Legal Services to help qualifying low-income veterans in the area gain greater access to free civil legal services veterans.